Veterans Speak Out for Statehood


Misión Estadista, part of Puerto Rico’s Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), joined with Puerto Rican military veterans last month to educate U.S. legislators on issues related to statehood for Puerto Rico.

One veteran, Wilfredo Rivera, reported that he had spoken with congressmen who were not aware that Puerto Ricans were unable to vote in presidential elections. “There is a lot of ignorance in this building,” he remarked. Rivera is a veteran, and three of his sons followed his footsteps into the military. One died in action.

The group also included retired Brigadier General Victor Perez, who said, “I come not to ask, because statehood is mine, whether it comes in three years or 20 more.”

Another participant was Purple Heart recipient Sixto Olmo, who said, “We know that the struggle for statehood is one that takes time. We have been warriors in the battlefield and we will be warriors in this civil strife.”

The veterans were able to visit more than 40 offices during their trip to D.C. The primary focus of the trip was to support legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers. This legislation has passed both the House and the Senate, and is currently awaiting the president’s signature.

The 6th Regiment was the only Hispanic segregated unit and is the only one of the segregated units that has not yet been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The regiment was initially formed shortly after the United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain in the Spanish-American War. Its members were not yet citizens of the United States at the time. Once Puerto Ricans attained U.S. citizenship, the unit was brought into the U.S. Army. Its members served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.

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